With large customer bases, heavy investment in technology such as machine learning, the “Big Four” global technology companies are growing rapidly. A key strategy for Google, Amazon, and Microsoft has been acquisition – of small innovative companies in similar or adjacent industries or traditional companies (such as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods).

The question many smaller tech companies, as well as non-digital enterprises, are asking today is “How Can We Protect Ourselves from the Giants”. For some, there is a fiercely independent competitive urge to ‘fight the inevitable’.

In reality, the Big Four’s rapid growth, high rates of customer loyalty and deep pockets (for investment) make it nearly impossible for smaller companies or market incumbents that have not innovated for the digital world to ‘fight’.

A more effective strategy may be to consider how they might build alliances or other value network relationships with the large companies – to ultimately deliver a greater range of options and services to the end customer.

Instead of building your own AI engine and platform, why not leverage the expertise, investment and stored data of Microsoft in Azure – as a partner. If your company needs an e-commerce, web-shop solution why take the risk of building your own when Amazon can provide easy access to your clients and millions of global citizens.

As digitalization continues its rapid growth, the large players represent great examples, models and partnership opportunities for all businesses. Competing against the inevitable can be costly and painful. Alternatively identifying your company’s core competencies, understand customer full needs and then seeking ways to partner with the ‘big guys’ can be a much more effective strategy.